Hiring Sales Engineer

Tips To Consider While Hiring A Sales Engineer

Published on December 2nd, 2022


Do you have a fully functional sales team but they lack somewhere in their technical concepts? 

Are you looking to bridge the gap between sales and technology to bring out the best in your products and services?

You need to hire a sales engineer!

But first….

Who is a Sales Engineer?

A sales engineer is not quite a sales representative nor an engineer, they stand at the crossroads of sales and engineering and are responsible for selling technical products, troubleshooting customer issues, researching products, and suggesting tech improvements.

A sales engineer is trained in both sectors and envisions designing and selling new products or programs that help to develop in order to increase your clients' output and profit.

Skills of a Sales Engineer

A sales engineer is a very demanding profession, thus they must possess a certain set of abilities and skills in order to succeed in it.

  • Good negotiation skills: A sales engineer needs to be skilled in persuasion and negotiation without coming across as pushy. It is the sales engineer's responsibility to shift the customer's perspective and persuade them that the product is valuable in situations where the customer may be struggling to comprehend the value of the service or product being offered. 
  • Ability to work under pressure: Sales strongly influence a sales engineer's job security. A sales engineer must be able to maintain composure under pressure since, at the absolute least, they must meet their sales goal. Like any salesperson, they must be aware that failing to meet their targets could result in termination while exceeding them might result in a raise in compensation or promotion.
  • Confident personality: A sales engineer must be confident speaking in front of others and be able to precisely respond to any questions or inquiries because they frequently have to pitch or present to potential customers. Ability to work in a team and independently: It's essential that you have the ability to operate both alone and cooperatively as a sales engineer. To establish marketing plans, for instance, you must be able to collaborate with other salespeople in your organization effectively. However, you must also be able to work independently while conducting market research and other analysis.
  • Willing to work for long hours: A sales profile requires the person to work at ungodly hours to meet their sales targets. They should be willing to work long hours and even on weekends to achieve their goals. 
  • Trustworthy and likable persona: The sales engineer must be genuine because a customer would never buy a product if the salesperson didn't come off as trustworthy. Developing a rapport and a relationship with a consumer may also make it easier to reach an agreement on a sale.
  • Knowledge of the product: In order to thoroughly and accurately explain the product, its characteristics, and why it is superior to any of its rivals, the sales engineer must possess in-depth knowledge of the product or service that they are trying to sell. Being able to confidently and accurately respond to queries regarding the product will increase the likelihood of making a sale, which helps the sales engineer accomplish their sales goal.

Sales Engineer Roles & Responsibilities

  • Hold conversations with clients to understand the requirements of the system.
  • Deliver technical presentations on products and services to current and potential clients.
  • Collaborate closely with sales teams to ascertain customer demands and offer assistance in the sales process.
  • to ensure orders are secured, renewed, and delivered
  • Offer suggestions to customers for improved equipment or supplies, demonstrating how the modifications can save costs or boost output.
  • Consult engineers to determine the equipment requirements.
  • Design and develop products in accordance with consumer needs.
  • and assist with the installation of equipment

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Types of Sales Engineers

The job of a sales engineer fits a variety of roles. These roles include

  • Product evangelist: A product evangelist collaborates with the business' marketing division and visits public conferences to pitch their products to prospective customers.
  • Subject matter expert: Subject matter experts are sales engineers with specialized understanding in a particular field. They are frequently contacted by clients to discuss a project that substantially relies on their area of expertise.
  • Generalist: The opposite of a subject matter specialist is a generalist. They provide assistance on numerous projects and have an extensive understanding of many different fields.
  • Solution architect: Solution architects are engineers who collaborate with clients to create technical fixes for particular business issues.
  • Technical account manager: A technical account manager serves as the company's point of contact with existing clients. They strive to fix issues with ongoing projects.

How much does a Sales Engineer make?

The sales engineer profile is a unique and in-demand position that is likely to gain popularity in the near future. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for sales engineers is expected to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031, despite the fact that employment in sales occupations as a whole is predicted to vary very little over that time.

The average salary of a sales engineer in the USA as reported by Indeed is $86,046 yearly. Their typical salary range is from $17,000 – $208,000 yearly, based on experience.

However, according to BuiltIn, the average salary for a Sales Engineer in the US is $125,321. The average additional cash compensation for a Sales Engineer in the US is $41,238. The average total compensation for a Sales Engineer in the US is $166,559.

Sales Engineer Interview Questions

Based on different situations and scenarios, there are different sets of questions that you can ask your candidate. These interview questions include

Role-Specific Questions

  • How does a Sales Engineer typically conduct a sales call?
  • What do you know about our products? Who do you believe to be our customers?
  • What software have you found useful for your job? Why, and how?
  • What is your experience with remote access software?

Operational Questions 

  • If a client had a technical problem but none of your solutions worked, how would you proceed?
  • What advantages do our products have over those of our competitors, and how would you describe them?
  • A significant prospective client asks for a feature that we don't yet provide. How do you answer the potential client and who do you inform about it?
  • Your manager sets a goal that you think is unrealistic. How do you respond to it?

Behavioral Questions

  • How can you be sure that your audience understands technically difficult terminology?
  • What motivates you to excel at work?
  • What has been the largest obstacle to technical communication for you? How did you get through it?
  • Describe a project you worked on that resulted in a sale. Whom did you collaborate with and what exactly did you contribute? 

Tips for Hiring a Sales Engineer

  • Finding a Suitable Sales Engineer

When choosing a qualified sales engineer, a solid reference network is crucial. So, one approach to hiring is to ask the recruiters to recommend the greatest sales engineers they have ever worked with. A different approach is to attempt to categorize the technical skill sets that are crucial for your business. 

To find the groups where these technical qualifications are most prevalent, you can use internet networks like Linkedin. Choosing a candidate from a university is a common mistake to avoid when making the first hire. Generally, you want your team to begin with someone who has greater business leadership and expertise.

The typical interview process for hiring sales engineers begins with technical questions and specifications, moves to face-to-face interviews, incorporates a live mock presentation along the way to evaluate sales skills, and concludes by involving sales representatives to consider fit and synergy with your sales team.

  • Look for Specific Skills and Qualities 

Hiring sales engineers who are exclusively sales savvy and skilled presenters is a significant advantage, but the most crucial skill is the ability to communicate difficult technical concepts in an engaging manner. 

Your sales engineers should be evaluated on their revenue statistics, teamwork, and feedback translation as soon as possible after being hired. The phrase "teamwork" describes an individual's ability to share technical assets, such as presentation demos, best practices, and competitive knowledge, with the rest of the team. 

Feedback translation is the ability to effectively relay customer feedback to product management and assist product engineers in understanding current market trends and goals.

  • Putting up a good Incentive Plan

Sales engineers should always be treated consistently with your sales team and should have a commission-based plan. Compensation should be based on a 70/30 plan, where 70% of the compensation is a basic salary and 30% is based on quota. 

It's crucial to pay your sales engineers in accordance with how much you pay your sales representatives. For instance, to maintain alignment, you should pay commission to sales engineers on renewals just as you do to salespeople. 

Although there are various compensation variables, emerging SaaS companies frequently aim to reward renewals because sales teams are primarily concerned with keeping existing clients.

Following are three additional tips on what “NOT” to do when hiring a sales engineer.

  • Hiring the Wrong Fit Based on the Complexity of your Product

Don't hire the most technical sales engineer available if your business is in the early or growth stage and delivering a not overly sophisticated solution to small and midmarket customers. 

Due to the high salaries of those sales engineers and the fact that they are accustomed to handling more complicated problems, this will ultimately cost you a lot of money.

Alternatively, don't recruit a newcomer if your organization requires a highly technical sales engineer because doing so is a surefire way to lose the prospect's trust during the sales cycle.

  • Offering a very Unattractive Compensation Package

Sales engineers are one of the best-paid professionals in the market. Companies lose a lot of time by entering the market with a compensation plan that is unable to entice top talent, and even if they are successful in hiring a fantastic sales engineer, they face the danger of losing them to a competitor who is offering a competitive salary.

  • Over Selling and Under Delivering

The sales engineer has challenging work because they support several sales reps (2–6) and travel 50–75 percent of the time. When recruiting sales engineers, businesses need to set realistic expectations for them so that they are aware of what to expect and can manage the workload based on their personal circumstances. 

There are many fascinating opportunities available for dejected sales engineers to pursue, therefore firms that don't set the correct expectations may see high turnover rates in their technical sales teams.

Concluding Thoughts

Sales engineers are a hot cake right now and every organization is trying to hire the best one for their sales team. 

If you hire with the given criteria in mind, your sales team will overcome many hurdles. These skills are not always easily teachable so hire the person that has demonstrated the ability to learn, get to the root cause, pursue all angles, persist, and of course present. Find an engineer that can sell!

If you’re someone who is looking for a sales engineer for your company, you need to pull up your socks and follow these tips to hire the best candidate for your organization.

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Radhika Sarraf

Radhika Sarraf is a content specialist and a woman of many passions who currently works at HireQuotient, a leading recruitment SaaS company. She is a versatile writer with experience in creating compelling articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing collaterals.

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